We are who we are today because we are shaped within the context of all our life experiences and influences, both good and bad. If we do not question the way of things, it is all too easy to blindly react to life circumstances or allow unjust assumptions to manipulate our behavior. Our culture tends toward obsessive individualism, but Jesus promoted community. Our political system seems to value only the rich and powerful, but Jesus was concerned with the needs of everyone.
I do not think of myself as an unkind person, but the more I try to emulate Jesus the more I realize that discipleship is a constant journey of growth, evaluation, and discovery. Trying to see through Jesus’ eyes, I realize there are times when I have built walls of isolation from others or I have treated others in unkind ways or I have refused to give of myself when I should.
Jesus gave his all for us. We too must give our all for each other. To be like Jesus is to be here for each other. Serving others has a liberating effect on our hearts. We are blessed with Christ’s peace, no longer a slave to fear, hate, and selfishness. Serving others breaks down walls of judgment, condemnation, and unfair expectations.
The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. Jesus took on this responsibility to show us the way to live according to divine principles. He pushed back against society’s unjust ways and promoted peace, hope, joy and love. Jesus’ life was not just about what he did for us, but what he called us to be. He lived his mission as our example. It is our responsibility to make Christ’s mission our mission.
In other words, we fall short of fully understanding the life and sacrifice of Jesus if we assume that once we accept the grace of God then nothing else is required of us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, explores the concept of Costly Grace. To follow Jesus means to love God with all we are and to turn that divine love outward into the world. We accept Grace and then we share that Grace with others. It takes faith and courage to walk in Jesus’ footsteps; it costs us something. Thankfully, the rewards of discipleship far outweigh the costs.
Recently, I was driving past a church with a marquis that managed to sum up Jesus as the Way in only eight words, “Jesus loved us so we can love others.”